Honda India still searching for a product to rival Royal Enfield - Report

23/10/2018 - 17:39 | ,   | Suvil Susvirkar

HMSI continues to be interested in the niche segment that Royal Enfield has outright control over. The Indian arm of the Japanese two-wheeler brand is looking for a product that can help the brand grab a chunk of the 350cc and 500cc sub-segments.

Honda Rebel 500 grey rear at Thai Motor Expo
The Honda Rebel 500's retro styling would've helped attract Royal Enfield buyers, but matching the price of a Classic or a Thunderbird proved tough for HMSI.

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In a recent interview to Moneycontrol, Minoru Kato, President and CEO, HMSI said that the niche segment controlled by Royal Enfield is 'very important' to the company, but it may not have an immediate answer. Kato said,

That is one of the biggest challenges for us. We have been undertaking customer surveys and product development. As of today, I am sorry to say we don’t have anything concrete to say.

The Rebel series could have been a rival to Royal Enfield’s dominance in the 350-500cc segment, but Honda is not interested in pitching the motorcycle range against the thumpers, primarily due to the inability to match the price.

Manufacturers have repeatedly tried to compete with Royal Enfield only to fail. Bajaj Auto launched the Dominar 400 with an aim to grab a share of the 350-500cc segment. However, the flagship Bajaj motorcycle could not achieve even 30% of its sales target. Bajaj is now updating the Dominar 400 and the new motorcycle is expected to arrive in November 2018.

In recent updates, Mahindra Group owned Classic Legends is preparing to challenge Royal Enfield by bringing back the Jawa brand into the Indian market. The engine for the upcoming Jawa motorcycle has already been unveiled while the product would be revealed on November 15, 2018. The motorcycle's new BSVI-compliant engine is a 293 cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, DOHC, fuel injected unit that will deliver 27 bhp of maximum power and 28 Nm of peak torque. The engine is tuned to offer a healthy mid-range and a flat torque curve, with efforts also to give it the signature Jawa exhaust note.

Meanwhile, Royal Enfield is expanding its product portfolio by introducing the new Interceptor INT 650 and Continental GT 650. As reported on October 13, the new 650 Twin will be launched in India on November 14, 2018. The motorcycles would be priced aggressively and are expected to arrive in the INR 2.50-3 lakh (ex-showroom) range, making them the most affordable 650cc twin-cylinder motorcycles in the Indian market.

Also read: Jawa 300 Roadster - IAB Rendering

The 650 Twins will use Royal Enfield’s all-new 648 cc, parallel-twin cylinder, SOHC, oil-cooled, 8-valve engine that delivers 47 bhp of maximum power at 7,100 rpm and 52 Nm of peak torque at 5,200 rpm. The engine is mated to Royal Enfield’s first 6-speed gearbox and benefits from slip-assist clutch as standard.


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